Loneliness and social isolation are often thought of as issues that affect older people, however they are increasingly becoming issues that can be experienced by us all.
The Welsh Government’s 2017-18 National Survey for Wales showed 16% of the population aged over 16 years said they felt lonely - with younger people more likely to report feeling lonely than older people.
Today the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan launches Wales’ first ever loneliness and social isolation strategy, called Connected Communities: A strategy for tackling loneliness and social isolation and building stronger social connections.’
The strategy will be supported by a £1.4 million loneliness and social isolation fund over three years. The fund will support community based organisations to deliver and test out, or scale up, innovative approaches to tackling loneliness and social isolation.
Being lonely and/or socially isolated can have a huge effect on people’s physical and mental health. The relationships we have with friends, family, colleagues and neighbours give us a sense of belonging and well-being.
The strategy is the first step in helping to change how people think about loneliness and social isolation. It sets out our vision for a connected Wales. The strategy has four priority areas:
- Increasing opportunities for people to connect. This priority sets out how the Welsh Government will work with others to increase the range of opportunities, to ensure awareness of them and encourage and support people to use them.
- Improving community infrastructure that supports connected communities. This includes planning, housing and transport, to support people to come together.
- Cohesive and supportive communities. This aim sets out some of the areas where the Welsh Government is taking action already and how, working in partnership, it can go further.
- Build awareness and promote positive attitudes. This sets out how the Welsh Government will raise the profile of loneliness and social isolation and reduce stigma.
These priorities were informed by our public consultation and working with a range of partners across Wales.
The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, said:
Loneliness and Isolation are feelings that can touch us at any age and any stage of our life. From a young person moving away to university to an older person caring for a loved one.
Whilst Government alone cannot solve these issues, we can help foster the right conditions for connections within communities to flourish. We need to change how we think and act upon loneliness and isolation within government, public services, businesses, communities and as individuals in order to help tackle these issues.
This is just the start; over the months and years ahead we want to extend our understanding, improve our responses to loneliness and isolation and ensure we are taking all the steps necessary to tackle these issues.